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Amidst possible delta virus surge , U.S. jobless benefits expired on Monday .



Two critical jobless programs expired on Monday leaving millions of jobless U.S. citizens as the country entered the fourth or fifth wave of the pandemic with some states, as Missouri struck hard.

One provided jobless aid to self-employed and gig workers and another provided benefits to those who have been unemployed for more than six months. Further, the Biden administration’s $300 weekly supplemental unemployment benefit also closed down.

It’s estimated that roughly 8.9 million Americans will lose all or some of these benefits.

While the White House has encouraged states to keep paying the $300 weekly benefit by using money from the stimulus bills, no states have opted to do so. Many states even opted out of the federal program early after some businesses complained that they couldn’t find enough people to hire. The data have shown minimal economic benefits from cutting off aid early in those states.

The amount of money injected by the federal government into jobless benefits since the pandemic began is nothing short of astronomical. The roughly $650 billion, according to the nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, kept millions of Americans who lost their jobs through no fault of their own in their apartments, paying for food and gasoline, and keeping up with their bills.

The banking industry has largely attributed the few defaults on loans this past 18 months to the government relief efforts.

The ending of these programs comes as the U.S. economy has recovered from the pandemic, but with substantial gaps in the recovery. However, the number of new infections over the last week is now 14 percent higher than it was two weeks ago, a fraction of the rate during much of July and early August.

Expert opinion varies widely on the direction of the virus in the coming months. A number of national forecasts being tracked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predict that cases are set to rise in the early weeks of September -butt many foresee the opposite.

The Labor Department says there are still 5.7 million fewer jobs than before the pandemic.

The White House had approved last month a 25% increase in food stamp assistance, also known as SNAP benefits. That increase will continue indefinitely for those 42.7 million Americans who receive those payments.

While the federal eviction moratorium has expired, roughly a dozen states —  controlled by Democrats — have extended their moratoriums, including California, New York, Washington, Illinois, and Minnesota. New York’s eviction moratorium was extended until Jan. 15.

The government also pushed the restart of federal student loan repayments until January. Those were supposed to have restarted this month.

Those unemployed less than six months will still be able to collect their benefits, but the amount will fall back to the level that each state pays. The average weekly check is roughly $387, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, but varies greatly from state to state.

Wall Street reacted cautiously too as  Monday night, Dow Jones Industrial Average futures had lost 74 points, or 0.21%, while the S&P 500 futures lost 0.03% and Nasdaq Composite futures gained 0.21%.

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